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Big Brother Bain Is Watching You

Mitt Romney, writing an op-ed on Feb. 16, 2012:

“[Obama’s] administration demurred from raising issues of human rights for fear it would compromise agreement on the global economic crisis or even ‘the global climate-change crisis.’ Such weakness has only encouraged Chinese assertiveness and made our allies question our staying power in East Asia.

The New York Times, today

In December, a Bain-run fund in which a Romney family blind trust has holdings purchased the video surveillance division of a Chinese company that claims to be the largest supplier to the government’s Safe Cities program, a highly advanced monitoring system that allows the authorities to watch over university campuses, hospitals, mosques and movie theaters from centralized command posts.
The Bain-owned company, Uniview Technologies, produces what it calls “infrared antiriot” cameras and software that enable police officials in different jurisdictions to share images in real time through the Internet. Previous projects have included an emergency command center in Tibet that “provides a solid foundation for the maintenance of social stability and the protection of people’s peaceful life,” according to Uniview’s Web site.
Such surveillance systems are often used to combat crime and the manufacturer has no control over whether they are used for other purposes. But human rights advocates say in China they are also used to intimidate and monitor political and religious dissidents. “There are video cameras all over our monastery, and their only purpose is to make us feel fear,” said Loksag, a Tibetan Buddhist monk in Gansu Province. He said the cameras helped the authorities identify and detain nearly 200 monks who participated in a protest at his monastery in 2008.

Apparently, making one’s millions at a global private equity fund creates potential conflicts for a future politician that go further afield than just the sensititivies of laid-off stationery-company workers in Indiana. Romney left Bain Capital before it decided to get into the dictatorship-abetting business, but as the Times article notes, he still benefits heavily from the company—for one thing, Ann Romney has between $100,000 and $250,000 invested in the specific Bain fund that purchased Uniview.

One final thought on this. There’s been a lot written about how Bain is preparing for the scrutiny that is coming its way as a result of Romney's candidacy. If that’s the case, though, don’t you think they’d come up with better responses than this doublespeak? 

“China’s increasingly urban population will face growing needs around personal safety and property protection,” the company said in a statement. “Video surveillance is part of the solution to that, as it is anywhere in the world.”

Ah, yes. Having its police-state government watching its every move is actually a need of China’s population. Orwell couldn’t have said it better.

follow me on Twitter @AlecMacGillis